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Poetry Contest 2022

Thank you to all who participated. We all so enjoyed reading your poems and many brought us to tears. Thank you all for your gifts.

AND THE WINNERS ARE.....

First place winner: 

Repairing (Pay for Your Food)

A great Artist created the plains.  
Took the fiberstuff of the universe and through the spindle of time
Created beautiful threads 
Fragrant threads of sweetgrass
Tough threads of siena brown bison
Melodious threads of the meadowlark
Gold threads of sunlight
Threads as numerous as the stars
And wove them into the seasons
Looped them into each other
 
Each thread a note
Every thread in harmony
A great symphony
rolling and laughing and balanced
 
The Artist wove in people and said it was good.
And the People said, this is good we are here.
And the Artist asked, if I allow you to weave, will you let the World unravel?
No. We will weave ourselves in your Work. 
Our thread intertwines with the bison
Our thread sings with the birds
Our thread runs with the wind
Our thread dances with the grass
We will respect and honor your Work.

For a time, there was balance
All the colors were in 

And another folk came.

They loved the work of their hands.
They wanted to be artists.
were afraid of the Hunger and the Cold and the Unknown.
But they were enlightened! They studied the World!
Science and Culture and Technology and Efficiency
They took the threads from the World 
Pulled hard and pulled fast
And starting weaving their own tapestry
The original pattern disintegrating

And their was great struggle
When you work against the World
And the Newcomers 
Struggle, Struggle
Build and Shovel
Iron and Coke
Railroad and Rifle
Homestead and Manifest Destiny
Cowboys and Indians
Blood red thread on the prairie.
The World Unraveling
Let’s get to work
If you don’t work, you won’t survive long out here.
Struggle, Struggle, Toil and Trouble
Sod house burn, blizzard blow and cattle stumble
A colorblind mismatch
Prairie Madness dressed in Calico
Braided blond hair on a belt
Retaliation and Hatred and Fear

They shredded the Bison thread with Remingtons and Sharps and Springfields
Tongues and Hides
Blood red thread on the prairie.
Weave our work, avoid the Hunger
Keep the best meat
Waste, Decay, and Flies
Empty eye socket skulls on trains
To the east
To be ground into bonedust for the fields

Plows cut the land with scissorlike precision
With scissorlike precison, the rifles cut the First People.
Blood red thread on the prairie.

Only our work must survive
Take those who wish to oppose it
And place them in camps
Let us make them like us
In our image
Give them culture and religion.
Now that is proper.
The Black Hills are not for sale.

Let us take the best meat.
And the gold.
They are not like us. 
 
We want to be the Artist
We create to destroy
We are creative in our destruction
Tractors cut up the threads of grass
And replace with wheat
The Work slumps
Glory, glory, glory
More wheat, more corn, more profit
Grind the bones, spread them on the land
Turn them into food
Don’t you know there is a war?

The work unravels
People are out of work
No work, no food
And dust
A thread unleashed 
No longer held by the grasses
Dust in lungs
In throats 
Steal the sun and our hope
Steel our souls for
The Hunger comes
 And we fear

Do you see the ghosts?
What ghosts?
Their ghosts, the ones we tried to make in our image.
Ghosts in the dust, the strangling dust, the starving dust
Sandy Creek, Wounded Knee
A beautiful Dream that died.

We grow the corn to feed our cars
And our cars poison the planet
We grow the corn to feed our animals
our barns packed to the brim
ammonia and antibiotics
Our animals poison the planet
Judge a society by how it treats the least
Slaughterhouse shock and confusion and pain
They suffer for our Hunger
 
Pesticide-Promised efficiency, increased yields
More fertilizer, increased yields
Milk the land for all she has
Buy chemicals to make up for what the crops took
But the topsoil is dripping away 
Manure runoff into streams
Dead zones in the Mississippi Delta
Beware the Agricultural/Industrial Complex
For the few, trips to exotic locales in private jets
if you buy enough brand name GMO seed 
Ones who take the best meat.

A small rebellion, a small repair, and unraveling of the work
Your own work is hard to unravel
The World turns to face the Artist
A herd of bison
Eating wild grass
With meadowlarks.
Sage and Sacrifice, no slaughter.
Blood on the prairie.
Efficiency. Simplicity. Harmony.

Circumvent the complex, cut the middlemen
But only the rich may currently eat
and absolve themselves of the System
Capitalism 
The worst economic system except every other system
Biding my time funding R&D
Funding a beautiful dream
Waiting for this Wild Idea 
to spread like Wild Fire 
on the prairie.

Judge a society by how it treats the least.
Pine Ridge Reservation Average Lifespan- 48 years old.
Pine Ridge Reservation Average Income- $6,286 
One in Three Native American Women has been raped.
Look to your left
Look to your right
One of you
Rise up! Rise up! 
Do you let this sit in your guts like the rocks that cover graves?
Do you let this sit in the back of your throat, in your mouth, like the sick-sour before you vomit?
Do you sit as the robbers beat your Neighbor, and leave him for dead on the road of life?

Will we always be the ones who take the best meat?
What do we do?
 
Pay for your food.
What.
Pay for your food.
The system makes it as cheap as it can.
The dollar hides the costs.
The costs we just covered
I don’t pay for Bison meat
I pay for beauty
I pay for harmony
I pay for peace
I pay for justice
I pay for dignity
I pay for jobs for Lakota
I pay for health
I pay for a revolution
If I am what I eat, I want to be these.

Like arrows we spring forth from our parents
Beyond the horizon we go
Small ones in the wild grasses, young men soon to be.
Our hope in future’s past.
When our eyes fail to see, and our ears no longer hear.
Our children are what we have.
Leave them with

birdsong beauty hope
In the World of Bison and Grass and People

Rachel H April 27, 2022

Second place winner:

What I Want 2022

What I want
Is the character of four seasons intact
Stewardship of our world based on fact
Slow food, from my own hands and loam
And the pure places where buffalo roam
Bequeathing my child nature to admire
Just the things all parents desire
Oh, how I ache for
What I want.

Anne Walters 

Wind pushes across prairie.
Grasses rustle.
Prairie dogs ripple.

The sacred buffalo steps to the beat of Earth.
Clouds walk through open sky.
Crisp air lulls coneflower upward.

A score of interconnected notes,
As it should be.
———sacred music.

Lorilei Lebruska 

Congratulations to all! One of our fabulous customer service team members will be reaching out to award your prize! Thank you all! 

____________________________________ 

It's National Poetry Month, so it's time to bring out your inner poet for our annual Freestyle Poetry Contest! And... this year we are offering three prizes! Here's how our contest works: Submit your original poem in the comment section below by noon, Wednesday April 27th. Our panel of judges will deliberate and select their favorite three poems and the winners will be announced on National Great Poetry Reading Day, Thursday, April 28th. 
buffalo herd moving through golden prairie grass
Your poem must include the word bison or buffalo to qualify. Staff, affiliated partners and published poets are encouraged to participate, but cannot be considered for a winning placement.  

This years prizes are:
First Place Winner will receive a $100.00 Buffalo Meat Certificate!
Second & Third Place Winners will each receive a $50.00 Buffalo Meat Certificate!

To start you off this year, we offer you this poem as a little inspiration. Good luck to all! 
prairie grassA Poem from the Grass
I bend in the prairie wind, but do not break.
If you plow me up, my heart will ache.

I am an ocean of grass, with roots that run deep.
Holding carbon in the soil, where it will safely keep.

I am fertile, I am life.
Why kill me and cause strife.

By filling the the air with CO2,
our children will be stuck with an environmental IOU.

My grasslands offer shelter and a home,
for wildlife that crawl, slither, fly & roam.

Along with a buffet of diverse healthy nourishment,
just in case you need a bit of encouragement.

So promise me that you will protect,
and treat our earth mother with respect.

The rain, sun and buffalo will keep me strong,
and in turn they can feed you and help you live long.

 

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59 comments

  • A symbol and an emblem in nickels from the earth
    Minted mounted currency of fluctuating worth
    Roaming concrete prairies inside pockets new and old
    A miniature reminder of your comeback once foretold.

    Philip Record
  • A fine collection of worthy poems about the prairie, the soil, the buffalo, the people it supports (ed).

    Your first choice is entirely a worthy winner. We really liked the Artist who weaves the woof and warp of time, place, the land and its people. We would have liked more with of the woven grass and the disharmony of the tearing apart a beautiful blanket called creation.

    Beauty is truth and truth beauty.

    Still and all, points well taken. The poet shows great promise. Best wishes and keep the faith.

    Wayne Viitanen
  • Thank you.

    Peter Fuller
  • I AM DIRT

    I am the dirt of the prairie
    I am the flesh for the tall grass
    I am the home of the humble burrow
    I am the maze of the dirt dog
    I am the dance floor of the wild bison
    I am Asfarastheeyecansee and the antelope can run

    I am home for the worm and the grub
    I am the palace of six and eight legged things
    I am the warm cradle for wild and garden seed
    I am the nursery of the colored petal
    I am the wallow bed for the buffalo
    I am the tank for the earth’s water

    I am the drum sounding the sacred dog beat
    I am the nesting place for feathered fliers
    I am the anchor for the tepee poles
    I am comfort for the fallen ones
    I am solace for the trickster
    I am a cavern for the wounded wolf

    I am the wall for the vessel of clay
    I am the mud that made life exist
    I am the familiar of the slithering no legs
    I am the canvas for the cloud shadows
    I am the palette for mixing war paint
    I am the seer of all history

    I am the haunt of ancient ancestors
    I am the map to all stories
    I billow and I dust, I crack and I rumble
    I climb and I slide, I flow and I grow
    I carry the tracks of all living things
    I hold all secrets but share my bounty

    I produce the mighty oak and the fragile grass
    I am the grocery for the fearless eagle
    I give my body where the sodbuster dwells
    I hold secure the memory of his bones
    I tremble at the iron disc and sharp spade
    I hold no regrets but long for the touch of the hoof

    Call me the hiding place for the terrible T Rex
    Call me open plain and call me the black hills
    Call me home safe and call me cruel disaster
    Call me badlands and try to find my treasure
    Call me, Asfarastheeyecansee and the antelope can run
    I am dirt and I will always be

    timorhy wolf
  • Bison, head down,
    moving slowly, majesty.
    Rumbling, mumbling, grunting
    to the ground.

    What is she saying?

    One of a piece with the prairie
    Put back where she belongs.
    The wind sighs with relief.

    Mignon Manelli
  • Just as God Created Me

    Wild and free,
    I am just as God created me.
    Pure power and speed course through my body at my whim,
    Yet I am content to stand,
    In the dry prairie with the rain beating softly upon my back.

    I roam and I wander this beautiful land,
    Given to me by God’s gracious hand.
    I rest under the cool shade of a lone tree,
    I graze upon the rich and plentiful grass.

    As the sun of the day fades,
    Into a brilliant starlit night,
    I am ever aware to listen
    For what lurks in the shadows.
    Smell and hearing heightened
    From a lack of sight.

    As the land offers it life to me,
    I will also offer mine in return.
    This is the circle of life
    For we, bison, live the beauty of no daily strife.

    Laura Smith
  • In the Eyes of the Bison

    In the eyes of the bison,
    the floras are nourishment,
    the faunas are friends,
    the waters are life, and
    the soils are sacred,
    in the eyes of the bison.

    Meredith Fry
  • BISON FART

    On a field, as bold
    As a bevy
    Of bi-planes
    North America’s
    Largest beast eats
    With bearded lips;
    Incredible hulks
    In bovine form
    With horns and six foot
    Shoulders
    Supporting massive woolly heads
    Bowed down like sacrament,
    Grazing passively,
    Stirring the soil consciously,
    Trying to be carbon-free,
    Methane free (trying),
    Excuse thee,
    Bison.

    A. Gawboy
  • No longer roaming free
    Bison so important to you & me
    But how do we convey
    The seriousness of the day
    To bring back our land
    To former states of grand?
    One bite at a time, if you will
    Thanks to people like Dan & Jill

    Mara Hansen
  • “Where do the Buffalos Roam?”

    Where do the buffalos roam
    on the plains of once?
    Now on protected land
    of those who care
    to exchange a home,
    for food and exhibition.

    Generations removed from
    dependence on their entirety
    now only a semblance of
    the omnipotent creation
    that once dominated the plains.

    The mighty sound of thunder
    now only suggests rain
    no longer the hooves of many
    stampeding from a distance.

    Where do buffalo roam?

    The Pottery Poet
  • Buffalo Meat

    The sizzle of the pan,
    the salted crust,
    in my mouth
    the seared buffalo must.

    Buffalo meat is a cut above.
    A tenderness,
    a leanness,
    I truly love.

    The animal is much more than meat
    - which as noted,
    I really love to eat.

    Buffalo have again found a home,
    where once they would roam.

    I thank you buffalo for all you do,
    from sustaining the prairie
    to my mid-winter stew.

    Alice Sauve
  • Take a tool,
    Say, an axe,
    A hatchet,
    A spade.
    Because this is the country
    Always, a knife.
    This morning,
    Pruning shears;
    Tomorrow, a saw.
    Next, a tractor.

    Country is
    Creaking willows,
    Tenacious thistles,
    Yipping coyotes,
    Whirring mosquitoes,
    Trilling meadowlarks.
    You embrace and it is.
    You devise and it is.

    Our legacy is fallout,
    Hidden isotopes,
    That’s all.

    Walls and towers
    Subsume into the past.
    Peace like a river,
    Until it rages.
    Peace like a lily
    Among dandelions
    And scrub oak.

    Because this is the country
    Snakes and locusts
    Infest and nest;
    Tools make space,
    Nudge nature.
    Far from any temple,
    Holding your medieval scythe
    In a sea of weeping tallgrass,
    You know this now.

    Bret Swanson
  • Stars scattered across a sky.
    Grass dancing as wind kisses blade.
    Open fields for miles and miles
    Freedom that sets a heart on fire.
    A beast so great no one dares across his path.
    Bison roam strong and proud

    Grateful for the gifts of Mother.
    Lands kept clean
    Traditions kept pure
    A life forgotten brought forth once again.
    Bison roam strong and proud

    Renee
  • Repairing (Pay for Your Food)
     
    A great Artist created the plains.  
    Took the fiberstuff of the universe and through the spindle of time
    Created beautiful threads
    Fragrant threads of sweetgrass
    Tough threads of siena brown bison
    Melodious threads of the meadowlark
    Gold threads of sunlight
    Threads as numerous as the stars
    And wove them into the seasons
    Looped them into each other
     
    Each thread a note
    Every thread in harmony
    A great symphony
    rolling and laughing and balanced
     
    The Artist wove in people and said it was good.
    And the People said, this is good we are here.
    And the Artist asked, if I allow you to weave, will you let the World unravel?
    No. We will weave ourselves in your Work.
    Our thread intertwines with the bison
    Our thread sings with the birds
    Our thread runs with the wind
    Our thread dances with the grass
    We will respect and honor your Work.

    For a time, there was balance
    All the colors were in
     
     
     
    And another folk came.
     
    They loved the work of their hands.
    They wanted to be artists.
     were afraid of the Hunger and the Cold and the Unknown.
    But they were enlightened! They studied the World!
    Science and Culture and Technology and Efficiency
    They took the threads from the World
    Pulled hard and pulled fast
    And starting weaving their own tapestry
    The original pattern disintegrating
     
    And their was great struggle
    When you work against the World
    And the Newcomers
    Struggle, Struggle
    Build and Shovel
    Iron and Coke
    Railroad and Rifle
    Homestead and Manifest Destiny
    Cowboys and Indians
     Blood red thread on the prairie.
    The World Unraveling
    Let’s get to work
    If you don’t work, you won’t survive long out here.
    Struggle, Struggle, Toil and Trouble
    Sod house burn, blizzard blow and cattle stumble
    A colorblind mismatch
    Prairie Madness dressed in Calico
    Braided blond hair on a belt
    Retaliation and Hatred and Fear
     
     
    They shredded the Bison thread with Remingtons and Sharps and Springfields
    Tongues and Hides
    Blood red thread on the prairie.
    Weave our work, avoid the Hunger
    Keep the best meat
    Waste, Decay, and Flies
    Empty eye socket skulls on trains
    To the east
    To be ground into bonedust for the fields
     
    Plows cut the land with scissorlike precision
    With scissorlike precison, the rifles cut the First People.
    Blood red thread on the prairie.

    Only our work must survive
    Take those who wish to oppose it
    And place them in camps
    Let us make them like us
    In our image
    Give them culture and religion.
    Now that is proper.
    The Black Hills are not for sale.

    Let us take the best meat.
    And the gold.
    They are not like us.
     
    We want to be the Artist
    We create to destroy
    We are creative in our destruction
    Tractors cut up the threads of grass
    And replace with wheat
    The Work slumps
    Glory, glory, glory
    More wheat, more corn, more profit
    Grind the bones, spread them on the land
    Turn them into food
    Don’t you know there is a war?
     
     
    The work unravels
    People are out of work
    No work, no food
    And dust
    A thread unleashed
    No longer held by the grasses
    Dust in lungs
    In throats
    Steal the sun and our hope
    Steel our souls for
    The Hunger comes
     And we fear
     
    Do you see the ghosts?
    What ghosts?
    Their ghosts, the ones we tried to make in our image.
    Ghosts in the dust, the strangling dust, the starving dust
    Sandy Creek, Wounded Knee
    A beautiful Dream that died.

     
    We grow the corn to feed our cars
    And our cars poison the planet
    We grow the corn to feed our animals
    our barns packed to the brim
    ammonia and antibiotics
    Our animals poison the planet
    Judge a society by how it treats the least
    Slaughterhouse shock and confusion and pain
    They suffer for our Hunger
     
    Pesticide-Promised efficiency, increased yields
    More fertilizer, increased yields
    Milk the land for all she has
    Buy chemicals to make up for what the crops took
    But the topsoil is dripping away
    Manure runoff into streams
    Dead zones in the Mississippi Delta
    Beware the Agricultural/Industrial Complex
    For the few, trips to exotic locales in private jets
    if you buy enough brand name GMO seed
    Ones who take the best meat.
     
    A small rebellion, a small repair, and unraveling of the work
    Your own work is hard to unravel
    The World turns to face the Artist
    A herd of bison
    Eating wild grass
    With meadowlarks.
    Sage and Sacrifice, no slaughter.
    Blood on the prairie.
    Efficiency. Simplicity. Harmony.

    Circumvent the complex, cut the middlemen
    But only the rich may currently eat
    and absolve themselves of the System
    Capitalism
    The worst economic system except every other system
    Biding my time funding R&D
    Funding a beautiful dream
    Waiting for this Wild Idea
    to spread like Wild Fire
    on the prairie.

    Judge a society by how it treats the least.
    Pine Ridge Reservation Average Lifespan- 48 years old.
    Pine Ridge Reservation Average Income- $6,286
    One in Three Native American Women has been raped.
    Look to your left
    Look to your right
    One of you
    Rise up! Rise up!
    Do you let this sit in your guts like the rocks that cover graves?
    Do you let this sit in the back of your throat, in your mouth, like the sick-sour before you vomit?
    Do you sit as the robbers beat your Neighbor, and leave him for dead on the road of life?

    Will we always be the ones who take the best meat?

    What do we do?
     
    Pay for your food.
    What.
    Pay for your food.
    The system makes it as cheap as it can.
    The dollar hides the costs.
    The costs we just covered
    I don’t pay for Bison meat
    I pay for beauty
    I pay for harmony
    I pay for peace
    I pay for justice
    I pay for dignity
    I pay for jobs for Lakota
    I pay for health
    I pay for a revolution
    If I am what I eat, I want to be these.

     
    Like arrows we spring forth from our parents
    Beyond the horizon we go
    Small ones in the wild grasses, young men soon to be.
    Our hope in future’s past.
    When our eyes fail to see, and our ears no longer hear.
    Our children are what we have.
    Leave them with

    birdsong beauty hope

    In the World of Bison and Grass and People

    Rachel H
  • The bison know the way.
    They know
    any attempt to outrun the storm
    will keep the herd within it.
    They know
    the fastest way through the storm
    is to turn and face into it.
    The bison know.
    That is the way.

    Anne Dilenschneider

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